Damian Williams, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ricky Patel, Acting Special Agent for the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge from the New York office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), Frank Russo, Acting Director, Field Operations, New York, US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and Dermot Shea , commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unveiling of a substitute indictment accusing VICTOR ALMONTE and MICHAEL ESPOSITO of conspiracy to distribute and possess in the intention to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and to distribute controlled substances via the Internet. The case, in which four other people had previously been charged and arrested, is attributed to US District Judge J. Paul Oetken.
ALMONTE and ESPOSITO were arrested this morning and will appear later today in Manhattan federal court before US trial judge Katharine H. Parker.
US Attorney Damian Williams said, “Trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids – sometimes referred to as K2 or Spice – poses a serious threat to public health and safety. Attractively packaged to appeal to teens and young adults, synthetic cannabinoids are actually toxic concoctions that can be very dangerous to consume. As alleged, the defendants used the websites they operated to distribute massive amounts of synthetic cannabinoids across the United States. Thanks to our law enforcement partners, the defendants were arrested and their dangerous business was dismantled. “
HSI Acting Special Agent Ricky Patel said: “As alleged in the indictment, the defendants purported to sell potpourri and herbs, but instead were selling massive amounts of dangerous synthetic cannabinoids to the public. . What made these offenses even more glaring was that the defendants allegedly continued to engage in these illegal activities after the arrest of four co-conspirators involved in the scheme, who showed blatant disregard for the scheme. rule of law – which will not be tolerated. HSI, together with its partners, will unite and bring to justice malicious actors who use the Internet to poison the public and put the health and safety of their customers at risk, with the sole aim of making a profit.
USPIS Inspector Philip R. Bartlett said: “Today’s indictment against Almonte and Esposito is an example of the commitment of postal inspectors and their partners in charge of law enforcement protect the streets from illegal drugs while preventing the misuse of mail. “
CBP Director Frank Russo said, “US Customs and Border Protection is proud of the expertise we provide to support investigations that result in the dismantling of criminal enterprises. Today’s arrest is an example of CBP’s interagency partnerships and collaborative efforts to detect, disrupt and deter transnational criminal organizations.
According to the allegations contained in the indictment and the previous indictment, and other court documents:
From February 2019 to May 2021, NIAZ KHAN, NOEL SANABRIA, ANDRE GOMES, PATRICK PATTERSON, VICTOR ALMONTE and MICHAEL ESPOSITO (the “defendants”) implemented a program for the distribution of massive quantities of smokable synthetic cannabinoids (“SSC”) , colloquially referred to as “K2” or “Spice”, containing controlled substances and / or a controlled substance analogue, throughout the United States.
The defendants sold SSC through at least four different websites they operated, namely K2HerbStore.com, HerbalPlug.com, LegalAromaTherapy.com and LegalHerbalSmack.com (collectively, the “Websites”). The SSC that the defendants sold through the websites included dried, shredded plant material that had been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid chemicals. The SSC distributed by the program was marked with colorful graphics and distinctive names, including “Train Wrecked”, “Scooby Snax Kush”, “Bizarro”, “AK 47”, “Hi5 Triple X”, “Evil Santa”, “Krazy Turkey ”,“ Sexy Monkey ”,“ WTF ”and“ COVID-19 Coronavirus Limited Edition ”.
In an effort to cover up their criminal activity and advertise their illegal products, the defendants used names for some of the websites which falsely represented that their SSC products were “legal”. Defendants have also at times misleadingly described their SSC products publicly as “not intended for human consumption”, “potpourri”, “herbal incense” and “legal aromatherapy”, whereas in In fact, the defendants intended that SSC would be consumed by drugs. users and they knew their conduct was illegal.
On May 20, 2021, KHAN, SANABRIA, GOMES and PATTERSON were arrested in connection with the charges contained in the indictment. Despite these arrests and the unveiling of the indictment, ALMONTE and ESPOSITO continued to carry out the SSC distribution program until or around December 2021.
During the program, defendants shipped thousands of packages of SSC by United States Post from the Bronx, New York, to customers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which contained a total of hundreds of kilograms. by SSC. The defendants made more than approximately $ 1 million from their illegal marketing and sale of SSC during the scheme.
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ALMONTE, 42, and ESPOSITO, 29, both of Queens, New York, are each charged with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with the Intent of Distributing Controlled Substances and a Controlled Substance Analog, and Distributing controlled substances using the Internet, bringing a maximum sentence of 20 years. The potential maximum sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any convictions of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr Williams praised the exceptional investigative work of the NYPD, HSI, USPIS and the New York Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. The long-term investigation into this case was partially funded by the New York / New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”), a federal grant program that invests in enforcement partnerships. law to build safe and healthy communities.
This matter is being handled by the Narcotics Unit of the Agency. The deputy prosecutors of the United States, Rebecca T. Dell and Robert B. Sobelman, are in charge of the prosecutions.
The charges contained in the indictment and the substitute indictment are only charges, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
 As the introductory sentence indicates, the entire text of the Indictment and Indictment, as well as the description of the Indictment and Indictment set forth herein, constitute allegations only, and each fact described should be treated as an allegation.